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synJet is one of the toys which can be played in Arcadia. It is a multiplayer vehicle simulator. You fly around and shoot at other players and mission targets.

This is an example MISSION screen, where you can see what needs to be blown up.

To get SynJet, download Arcadia then Fetch Toys

Of course, airplanes require some skill to fly, so you might want synSpace if you just want to hold keys down and zoom around. For your convenience, you may now pick 'easy mode' for your flight controls if you prefer more of an arcade experience.

How To Play:

When you first start the game, you will see the title screen, with it's semi cool 3D fractal surface animation. In general, clicking on a screen will step you to the next screen in a cycle:

  • MISSION Screen, where the moderator will pick and see described one of the available missions. If you click on the screen, you can zoom in on a target (which is cool). If you drop in on a game in progress, you can click on the name of a player and orbit them instead. This is actually 'spectator mode' and you can watch the bullets fly.
  • FLIGHT Screen, where you actually fly your mission. Generally you spend most of your time here. If you get 'splashed' (shot down), you will be resurrected as soon as your plane hits the ground. This mode continues until the mission objectives are met, or the moderator pushes the EJECT button. If you push your OWN EJECT button, you will be removed from the mission and will have to re-enter the server to join back up. (Or wait for the moderator to start the next mission)
  • DEBRIEF Screen, which appears at end of your mission and describes the results After this, it is back to the MISSION screen in an infinite loop! This is also a spectator mode, so if you EJECT from the mission, you can sit here and watch the remaining players slug it out.

While in the FLIGHT Screen, you will be piloting a Cessna with a jet engine. The engine is initially off, so you will start falling unless you turn it on. You control your throttle with the PGUP/PGDN buttons and your throttle is shown as a percentage on the Heads Up Display (HUD). Yep, you can go higher than 100% (at 100% you have achieved true cessna full engine. Above that and you are using your jet engine)

If you have a JOYSTICK, use the Options Dialog, or Right-Click menu to enable its use. It's more fun with a joystick. If you do NOT have a joystick, turn OFF the option, or else the Keyboard controls will not work.

Holding the SHIFT button while pressing a numpad key lets you look out of different windows of your plane (Shift-8 for front window). My favorite is SHIFT-ZERO which switches to a 'chase plane' view. If you are using a joystick, press and hold the second joystick button (not the trigger) and you can swoop your view around the plane. Here's a screen shot from the chase plane:

That's YOU in the cessna, some buildings in the background you might like to blow up, and a mountain ridge you are disturbingly close to.

You'll notice along the right are three square displays.

The Top Cell shows time left in the current mission (or time spent flying if the mission has no time limit). It also shows some tell-tales which are your window into the panic of flight. When they flash, you need to react.

  • LOCK means someone has a radar lock on you
  • MISSL means a radar-locked missile is heading for you
  • DMG means you are damaged. Flashing red means 'a lot'

More to come later, like 'PULL UP' and chaff/flares, etc. This window is also where you will find your EJECT button. This removes you from the mission completely, so don't push it unless that's really what you want!

The Middle Cell shows an image of your current target, as it would look if you looked straight at it from your current position (and had a zoom lens). It's like a super-zoomed auto-tacking TV image of the target. It's cool. Enjoy it. When chasing another plane, it can give you extra info about what direction the plane is turning (often your view out the window shows other planes as dots)

The Bottom Cell lets you pick your target, which can be a GROUND target, an AIR target, or a NAV target. The NAV targets are things like friendly runways and aircraft carriers. The other targets are defined by the mission profile. But you can pretty much blow up anything. A mission SUCCEEDS when all the GND targets have been destroyed and FAILS if all the NAV targets get destroyed (somewhat of an over-simplification.. but basically if you are a good guy, you should attack GND and AIR targets and not NAV targets).

Once you have selected a target, a needle will appear on the compass bar along the top. Turn until the need lines up with the center arrow and you are flying right towards the target. The DME meter tells you your distance from the target. The D meter below that will sometimes tell you the difference in altitude between you and your current target.


There are three basic weapon types: Kinetic [F1], Missile [F2], and Bomb [F3]. If you press F2, for example, you will switch to missiles. If you were already in missile mode, pressing F2 will cycle to the next missile (you have about 4 different flavors, varying with laser/radar/heat seeking-ness).

Ditto for F3 and the several flavors of bombs you have.

F1 is just your 20mm cannon. Someday you'll get laser bolts, I promise.

Use the joystick trigger to fire the current weapon (or keypad ENTER if you don't have a joystick.. and if you have a laptop... um.. you're probably screwed at the moment.) Cannon fire just goes straight out from the nose of your plane (and falls with gravity). Missiles track either by radar or heat and will do better if you keep the square box 'target cursor' on screen. Under the DME it will say LOCKED if you have a lock on the target. Don't change targets while a missile is in the air, or it will lose lock (it won't change targets).

All the weapons are super powerful at the moment, to make up for the frustration of the difficulty of flying.


Most of the keys work both in Joystick and Keyboard mode. Note that several keys are to be used on the NUMPAD (not the main keyboard). And they assume you do NOT have NUMLOCK turned on. Generally, the arrow keys will NOT work while in joystick mode. (at which point the joyStick performs those flight functions)

Mouse Right-Click Brings up popup menu (to turn joystick on/off)
PageUp/PageDown Change your Throttle percentage. (0 - 100%)
keypad Arrow Keys Fly your plane, when not in joystick mode
keypad INS/DEL Left and right rudder control
keypad ENTER Trigger button for non-joystick mode
keypad '5' Re-centers all control surfaces (in keyboard mode)
Shift Arrow Keys Select View Direction (keypad Shift-8 for front)
Shift keypad 0 Chase Plane view
Ctrl Arrow Keys Move Chase Plane camera position
F1 Select Cannon
F2 Select/Toggle Missiles
F3 Select/Toggle Bombs
Joystick Button 1 Trigger for current weapon
Joystick Button 2 Hold to set chase plane position (SHIFT for distance)


  • Someone starts a server and people join it
  • The moderator sees a list of mission names, and picks one
  • Everyone sees MISSION MODE showing that mission
  • They press JOIN MISSION if they want to play
  • Moderator presses START MISSION when enough people join
  • All players see FLIGHT screen and start to fly their planes
  • Newcomer to server sees MISSION mode, which includes seeing the current players flying around as tiny little dots (spectator mode). Click on names to orbit specific players.
  • Newcomer presses JOIN MISSION to drop into mission in progress
  • Kills/Deaths counters keep track of 'splashes'
  • You decide to shoot a fellow player. You click AIR to show list of AIR TARGETS. Then click on name of target. The COMPASS now has a target needle which guides you to the target. The DME in the hud shows name of target and distance from you (and feet above/below you)
  • You press F2 to select missile of choice (note: as of .0005, missiles are unfairly lethal).
  • You press trigger to launch missile
  • It tracks your target (if you change target, it will lose lock)
  • Your target is destroyed (and you have one less missile in inventory)
  • Splashed plane loses all control and pilot just rides it down into the dirt. As soon as it hits the ground, it is immediately re-born (with a full load of weapons) some distance above the place it crashed.
  • You reload your weapons by landing on a runway (or crashing).
  • Once the mission criteria have been met, it ends either in SUCCESS or FAILURE. If you were playing as a bad guy (defined entirely by your actions) then you revel in the FAILED mission.


Well, you should get a copy of MS Flight Simulator, and learn there (and then come back and laugh at synJet). I am pleased with the synJet flight dynamics in the sense that I wrote them all by myself, didn't cheat (only forces of thrust, gravity, drag, and lift affect the position of your plane) and they sort of work like other flight sims.

However, it's not the best flight sim on the planet... yet.

In general, it is probably easier to fly with JoyStick. And the greatest challenge is to land on one of the carriers (I made the 3D models by hand with pencil, but check out that carrier! The Theodore Roosevelt, I mean. The Enterprise is just a box)

  1. Set your engine power (PgUp/PgDn). 100% is nice for a climbing cessna.
  2. pitch up/down to keep nose level with horizon (tap DOWN arrow a couple times)
  3. watch altimeter for clues as to rate of climb
  4. watch 'angle of attack' (AoA) in HUD. Too big a number and you lose all lift (you stall). (tap UP ARROW a couple times to move nose back down)
  5. If you stall, put your nose down until your speed comes back, then pull back gently (keeping your AoA low... Your AoA will spike if you pull back too suddenly -- you will 'lose the laminar flow')
  6. To turn, don't be afraid to use your rudder. The compass is still a bit dodgy when you are tilted. Sorry.
  7. If you are spinning crazily, use the numPad '5' key to re-center all your control surfaces.


Unlike a car or spaceship, airplanes mostly fly themselves if you give them half a chance. You will mostly want to keep your controls in a 'neutral state' (let's call that 'centered') and then make only minor, and temporary, corrections.

For example, to lift the nose of your plane, you don't want to hold the down arrow key for a long time. You just 'tap it' (and count the taps, because to recenter the control you will need to tap it the same number of times in the opposite direction.

This is generally why people go screaming out of control, they lose track of their control settings and leave the plane in a mode where it is constantly trying to turn around one access or another.

Once you are in a panic situation, do this:

  1. press numPad '5' to re-center all your controls
  2. wait for the plane to stabilize
  3. pull-back (tap DOWN ARROW) very GENTLY and wait for plane to react.
  4. as the nose gets close to level flight, tap UP ARROW as needed to cancel out your previous down arrows.

Remember, the controls do NOT simply rotate your plane. They move a control surface which rotates your plane based on its contact with air. Centering your controls does NOT return the plane to level flight, it just stops rotating it, leaving it in whatever weird angle you had it in. You then have to apply OPPOSITE controls to undo the damage.


Aside from the difficulty that comes from not actually reading all these boring words, I accept that the flight model is imperfect and nothing you do will make it perfect. However, it IS possible to keep the plane in the air.

Basically, a synJet plane works like this:

  • You point the plane in a direction
  • gravity pulls your plane straight down
  • your engine pushes your plane in the direction it is facing
  • lift pulls your plane 'up' (in the direction above your head, so if you are upside down, lift actually is pulling you DOWN)
  • drag slows your plane down AND straightens your plane 'into the wind'

So, the actual direction you are traveling is seldom as simple as just the direction you are pointed. (use the right-click menu to SHOW FORCES and then get into CHASE PLANE view, and you can watch these forces as little lines. Green is lift, purple is drag, red is actual direction you are moving. Yellow lines show your plane's frame of reference)

Lift is your friend, but tempermental. In general, wind moving fast against the wing makes lift. As you increase the 'angle of attack' of the wing to the air motion, you get even MORE lift. Until you go too far (losing the laminar flow, so to speak), at which point you lose all lift until you get the plane back in the groove (hint, nose down and watch the AOA meter. When it gets back to 0, then pull up as needed to avoid crashing).

Your plane can rotate on three axes:

  • It can PITCH the nose up or down. The up/down arrow keys control this. The control surface for this is the 'elevator' (the little 'wings' back on the tail section. It's like having a little plane in the back, and when it goes 'up' it rotates your nose 'down')
  • It can ROLL the wings around in a circle (one wing goes up, the other goes down) The control surface for this are your 'ailerons' (the little flaps at the back edge of each wing. They go in opposite directions and affect the relative lift/angle of attack of the wings. So the wing with more lift goes up, the other goes down, and you throw up.)
  • It can YAW the nose left or right. This is much like steering a car. Your control surface for this is your RUDDER (a little flap on the vertical wing thing at the back of the plane, actually). That vertical wing also makes lift, but normally, with the rudder centered, its angle of attack is 0 and makes no lift. Depending which way you bend it, it makes lift either to the left or the right, pushing the tail section of the plane to one side or the other, which you perceive as the nose facing a new direction. Use numPad INS/DEL for rudder control, even in joyStick mode

Normally you leave all your controls CENTERED (use numPad '5' to center them in keyboard mode. Let go of the joystick to center them in joystick mode)

When you move a control, you start a rotation. That rotation just keeps on going until you re-center the control. So tap the rudder once, and you start to YAW like crazy. Tap it once the other way and the YAW stops.

So the trick is to deflect your controls for just a moment, until the plane is pointed the right direction, then recenter them.

The reality is that the plane will over-fly probably and you need to start stopping your rotations before you're actually pointed the right way, otherwise you will go to far.

If you just hold down the arrow keys, you will leave your control surfaces all over the place and the plane will be in a constant rotation in all three axes at the same time. There is a little meter on the lower left which shows your current control surface settings. It looks like a centered PLUS SIGN when your controls are centered.

Now, just because you rotated your plane to point the direction you want to go doesn't mean it is actually going that direction yet. It's still traveling like a rock in the original direction (that's called INERTIA, look it up!) But your engine is now pulling in the new direction and eventually the plane will be mostly going in the new direction as well.

Also, doing a ROLL doesn't really make you turn, it just puts your plane on its side. (In fact, while on your side, the LIFT force is only partially keeping you UP, and partially pulling you sideways, but it's still not a 'turn' in the sense you were thinking.) The RUDDER does more of a turn-like operation, but really you need to both ROLL *and* YAW smoothly at the same time to execute a nice turn (and muck with your power, as well, if you mean to stay at the same altitude)

This is where JET MODE comes in. Jets basically don't rely much on lift, when you come right down to it. They just have engines that are so freaking powerful they can just go straight up without needing to depend on nasty old lift. Similarly, to turn in jet mode, you just ROLL until your destination is 'above you' and then PITCH UP until your nose is pointed at your destination, and then ROLL back to level your wings (if you care).

But even JET MODE needs lift, to make that PITCH UP bit work well, Pull back too hard and your angle of attack goes up, you fall out of the laminar flow and bang, you're stalled. So don't pull back too hard. And if AoA is climbing, nose down again to keep it in control. In a real jet, you would also be experiencign deadly G-forces, which would further encourage you to not pull up too strongly.

Now, I say JET MODE as if synJet has such a thing. Basically just use the PgUp key until your power is in the thousand percent range. More to come on this later.


  • Making a Fractal Terrain sheet from a single random number seed. I have discussed this before in the synVista notes
  • Using simple forces to model flying... I make no claim that my math is the best implementation. In fact, I guarantee it is NOT. However, it's somewhat entertaining that simple modeling of force vectors makes behaviour happen that somewhat acts like an airplane.
  • Describe Mission file format

Toy Status:

Still in development, but you're free to play it any time you like! As of version .0005, this now deserves to be called a GAME (barely). Missions must be crafted and shared manually at present.

To Install Toys:

  1. Run Arcadia
  2. Select your 'channel'
  3. Push the "Check for New Toys" button
  4. Follow Instructions.
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